how to: buy a home

Ready for a new nest? Whether you’re looking for your very first place, or it’s time for an upgrade, we’ve got guides on renting or buying a home that will help ease you through the process. Start with the basics -- condo, co-op, or house? Our home buying help will give you the pros and cons of every option. After deciding what you want, you’ll need to settle on where to live. Our tips on how to find a home will help you pick the right neighborhood and even tell you how to give it a test drive! If you’ve already narrowed in on a neighborhood, you’ll want a real estate agent, and we’ve got the questions you must ask before you hire one. Once you’re on the house hunt, our Q&A can help you through every step of buying a home. From dealing with agent fees, how much to bid, managing mortgages -- even when it’s smarter to rent. You’ll find home buying help for every sticky situation. In addition to tips on buying a house, we’ve also got advice on selling your old one. Take a peek at our advice on organizing an open house, the dos and don’ts of selling it yourself, and our handy selling your home checklist. Our tips on buying a house will take you right through to the end, from dealing with inspections to making an offer. Once you’re ready to make your move, check out our moving checklist and the first things you should do in your new space. Welcome home!

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Real Estate Q&A: Prequalified Versus Preapproved?


How is getting “prequalified” different from being “preapproved”?


A prequalification letter means that a mortgage company or banker has looked at your finances and decided that you’re probably going to get approved for a loan through the company or bank. When you go to buy a house with just a prequalification letter, it isn’t a strong enough sign to the seller that you’ll be able to pay.

“Preapproval” means that the bank or mortgage company has done the due diligence of looking through all of your financial history and decided that you qualify for a mortgage of a specific dollar amount. In essence, your preapproval letter tells the seller: “I can buy your house, period. I’ll be putting down x amount of dollars, and here’s a letter showing that I’ve been preapproved and am a financially clean buyer.”

Once you’re preapproved and the seller accepts your offer, give your lender the particulars of the house so the appraisal can take place. Assuming the house appraises for at least the purchase price, the paperwork to close the mortgage will begin.

Nestpert Jeff D. Opdyke, author of Financially Ever After: The Couples’ Guide to Managing Money

-- The Nest Editors

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